A heartfelt novel about a softball-loving girl coming to terms with her parents’ humanity after a scandal sends shock waves through her townBea’s parents think she can accomplish absolutely anything—and she’s determined to prove them right. But at the end of seventh grade, on the same day she makes a gutsy play to send her softball team to the league championships and Xander, the boy she likes, makes it clear that he likes her too, a scandal shakes up her world. Bea’s dad made a big mistake, taking money that belonged to a client. He’s now suspended from practicing law, and another lawyer spread the news online. To make matters worse, that other lawyer is Xander’s dad.
Bea doesn’t want to be angry with her dad, especially since he feels terrible and is trying to make things right. But she can't face the looks of pity from all her friends, and then she starts missing throws in softball because she’s stuck in her own head. The thing she was best at seems to be slipping out of her fingers along with her formerly happy family. She's not sure what's going to be harder—learning to throw again, or forgiving her dad. How can she be the best version of herself when everything she loves is falling apart?
Laurie Morrison taught middle school English for ten years and now writes middle grade novels. She is the co-author of Every Shiny Thing and the author of Saint Ivy (May 18, 2021) and Up for Air, which earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Read, and an Amazon Prime Book Box pick. She holds a BA in English from Haverford College; an MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English from The University of Arizona; and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @LaurieLMorrison and visit her website at lauriemorrisonwrites.com
Laurie Morrison has once again knocked it out of the park with her next middle grade novel COMING UP SHORT. When talented shortstop Bea makes a gutsy play to send her softball team to the championships AND cute Xander makes it clear he's interested, it seems like everything is perfect in Bea's life. But then a major error in judgment on her father's part becomes a public scandal in their small community. Bea tries to push away her feelings, but then she gets the "yips." She's unable to play softball the way she had before and she's crushed. The authority with which Morrison conveys Bea's softball experience is impressive on its own. But where Morrison's writing shines is in her deft, seemingly effortless development of characters. She renders each character so naturally that they feel real on the page, forcing the reader to care, to worry and -- in the case of this reader -- to stay up late to find out the ending. Will Bea get over the yips? Will Dad get another job? Will Xander and Bea mend the broken beginnings of their sweet, young romance? You'll need to read to find out and it'll be worth every minute.
My 9 year old son and I really enjoyed reading this book together! He said it’s a really good book focusing on sports, friendship and overcoming hard times. The story was paced well and easy enough for a fourth grader to comprehend. We enjoyed it so much that we are reading another book next by the same author.
I really loved that this book looked at topics I haven’t much come across in middle grade: making mistakes and being okay with not succeeding. The analogy shared for “coming up short” in some areas of our lives is genuinely really helpful to me. I enjoyed seeing Bea work through the process and learn to treat herself and others with grace. Nobody is perfect, but we can give something our all even if the outcome isn’t guaranteed. ⚾️
“I never play scared. I always want to make the play.” (2)
Bea’s parents think she can do anything—“You‘re the best kid in the world.”(40)—which brings a lot of pressure to be perfect.
On the day that seventh grader Beatrix Bartlett leads her softball team to the championships, her world crumbles. She finds out that her father took funds from a client’s account to use for other purposes—the same day the entire town finds out. And while trying to keep her parents happy, and ignore her friends who are all saying the wrong things, her softball game falls apart; she gets the “yips” and runs off the field during the championship game.
“I’m not a gutsy, fearless softball star. I’m a quitter. I’m a head case. I’m ‘that poor girl.’” (61)
Finding out that they really can’t afford the sleep-away softball camp she was to attend with her friends, Bea enrolls in a day camp run by her favorite softball player, Rose Marvin of the U.S. national team, held in her mother’s hometown, Gray Island. There she stays with her mother’s older sister, meets her mother’s former friends, and makes some new friends herself. And she learns secrets about her mother and the reasons her mother has never returned.
Focused on her family problems, she burns some bridges with her best friend Jessi and her new friend Hannah. “I try to breathe in love and appreciation for myself right now [as Rose advised her players], but then I remember how mad Hannah was and how sad Jessi sounded, and I’m too disappointed in myself to feel any love at all.” (240)
How responsible is someone for the happiness of another? Bea learns a valuable lesson from her aunt. “It isn’t your job to make your parents happy. Their happiness isn’t your responsibility. No one can be responsible for another person’s happiness.” (240)
Bea begs her parents to come to Gray Island for her final game. But again her family scandal is revealed and again she loses control and runs off the field.
After an honest talk with her parents, she returns to the field. “I didn’t get any hits. I didn’t make any good throws. But getting back out there on the field even though I was terrified and embarrassed—I think maybe that was gutsier than any play I’ve ever made. I think maybe I’m proud too.” (274)
Laurie Morrison’s delightful new novel is full of characters adolescent readers will relate to and lessons we all need to learn about relationships and opening up. “Maybe it isn’t such a shameful thing to lose control sometimes because the only alternative is putting up a whole lot of gates and closing yourself off.” (260)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Bea’s whole world is coming apart-she made a costly error during a championship game, her dad made an error in judgement that cost him his job, her crush’s father posted ugly comments on social media about her dad, and her house is up for sale. Laurie Morrison’s main character has always worked hard to be the best at everything she does but with so many traumatic things happening at once, can she be good at anything anymore? The plot moves along swiftly as Aunt Mary, a softball camp, new friends, and some honesty all work together to help Bea find some peace, get over her case of the “yips” and regain her love of softball again. Morrison includes some serious topics such as suicide, depression, counseling, and debilitating anxiety, but in a way that is gentle enough for middle grade readers to not only enjoy an excellent middle grade novel, but to possibly seek help for their own anxiety or depression and to understand what others may be enduring in their own lives. With a shortage of quality “girl in sports” books, this one should be marked as a high priority for libraries serving grades 4-7. No profanity, sexual content or violence. Representation: Race is left to speculation in the case of most characters; as introductions at softball camp are made, some include their preferred pronouns; a variety of family configurations present; Bea’s aunt still maintains a friendly relationship with her ex-wife/girlfriend.
Thanks for sharing a finished copy with #BookAllies, Laurie Morrison.
I was fortunate to read an e-ARC of Laurie Morrison's latest book. Fans of her previous work have so much to look forward to with this thoughtful, heartwarming sports/family/friendship story. Morrison tackles a situation not commonly seen in MG fiction: white-collar crime and its affect on an entire family. Bea is the cherished only child of her two parents who experienced their share of heartache earlier in their adulthood. When her father is suspended from practicing law, it has a far-reaching impact, complicating not just how the community sees her family, but how Bea sees herself. When she loses the ability to throw the ball effectively at a target in an important softball game, she's lost. The only way she can imagine fixing things is by getting away from it all. Spending the summer with her aunt and attending a softball camp run by one of her favorite players. Can she fix her yips and make peace with all of the big changes happening back at home? I loved how real and complicated Bea's family is. And of course, I'm always game to read about a sporty girl. Bea's story delivers on multiple fronts, with plenty of hooks for upper middle grade readers. Hand to fans of Barbara Dee, Kate Messner, and Rebecca Stead.
Seventh grader Bea is having an amazing year. Her parents think she can hang the moon, and a gutsy play brings her softball team to its championship game. But things quickly change when it become public knowledge that her dad - her biggest cheerleader - made a financial mistake that brought about legal action and scandal in their town.
Suddenly Bea has a case of the yips. She’s lost in her head and unable to play softball like she had before, and she’s crushed. Hoping to regain her skill and fearlessness on the field, Bea goes to visit her Aunt Mary on Gray Island where she attends an intense summer camp with her softball idol, Rose.
But Bea quickly learns that you can’t outrun your problems, and that working through the yips requires believing in and showing up for yourself first.
With themes of friendship, family, trust, and teamwork, this is a must add to your middle grade classroom library!
A softball 🥎 #middlegrade story all about a young girl, Bea, getting roped into stuff that is negatively affecting her and her family. Bea takes on the stress of a mistake her dad made and in the process makes some of her own - as a preteen or teenager we often see them dealing with adult issues and forgetting how to just be and have fun. This story brought back a lot of good softball memories for me and one on one time my dad and I had. Coming soon! Preorder today! 🥎
I'm not sporty, so I generally avoid books like COMING UP SHORT. If it weren't for the Cybils Awards, I wouldn't have picked it up at all. I'm not sorry I did, even though I found it to be only an average read. Overall, it's a heartwarming novel that teaches some good life lessons. Bea and the other characters are likable enough, but not unique or memorable. I actually didn't feel super connected to Bea, maybe because—like Hannah says—she's pretty self-centered. It's great that she's talented and confident, but she really did seem to be hyper-focused on herself and her family. (Good thing her friends and teammates are way more emotionally mature than any real 13-year-old kids and forgive her for treating them badly.) Part of the problem is that Bea has no clear story goals to really make the reader root for her, worry for her, and feel a part of her journey. This also makes the plot feel unfocused and the book overly long. The action drags quite a bit. All that being said, I appreciate the book's messages that (1) mistakes are a part of life and what really matters is how you atone for them and what you learn from them and (2) it's okay not to be okay and to talk about why you're not okay. These are great, important life lessons. All in all, though, I thought COMING UP SHORT was just an okay read.
Laurie Morrison's newest gem is the story of a girl dealing with softball and her huge ambitions, her father's mistake (resulting in local scandal), and what truth in families really means. Morrison does a magnificent job capturing how much parents' problems can weigh down a kid. Bea tries so hard to be "good" in every sense, and to be there for her family, who tries to be there for her, everyone pretending that all is fine when the world is crumbling around each one of them. I loved is that while Bea struggles with all of this (softball, her father's scandal, family secrets), it doesn't crush her. The reader will know that she *is* good, and trying, and people need to give her a little more room for her to be at her best. This is a fabulous story about family, truth, and being okay with not being okay.
Bea has two very supportive parents who are glad to have her, since both suffered the loss of spouses before they reconnected after knowing each other while in high school on Gray Island. Her father is the head of the school parent organization and works with Bea a lot to perfect her softball skills, and goes to every game. It seems odd, then, that he is not there to take her and her mother home one night. Bea finds out that her father, who has just set up his own law business, made an error and spent some client money on company expenses when the account was low. He realized the mistake, admitted to it, and immediately made it right, but when another lawyer involved in the case spots his picture on Instagram at the ball game, he makes a big fuss about it and the entire community finds out. In a horrible twist, the other lawyer is the father of Bea's crush, Xander, with whom she is finally starting to connect. While most people are supportive of the family, the impact of this revelation (which is going to cause financial problems for the family as well) sends Bea into a spiral of self-doubt, and this is reflected in her performance on the field. She decides to change the softball summer camp that she is going to attend, and manages to make calls and put the process in motion to get her parents a refund and attend a camp on Gray Island with her softball idol. She will stay with her Aunt Mary, who doesn't seem to get along too well with her mother. Bea meets several of her mother's old friends, and is surprised to find Aunt Mary easy to get along with. She understands that coming back to the island is hard for her mother, since that's where she lived with her first husband, and where he supposedly died of cancer. Or did he? She is in close contact with her parents, and can see that her father is struggling. She wants to make things better, so engineers an ice cream social after the last game so that her parents will have to visit the island. Camp goes okay, and Bea learns a lot about getting out of her head. She also gets attention from the coach, who suggests that she might want to try for a scholarship to the fancy private school on the island. Unfortunately Hannah, the daughter of her mother's best friend, is depending on the scholarship, since she is dealing with her father living far away and her mother's business having problems. For a while, she and Bea are friendly, but the two fall out right before the social. Will Bea figure out how she should go forward with her new reality, and will she be able to find a balance in her life that supports her mental well being? Strengths: I am always looking for more realistic fiction with girls playing sports, and softball is always popular. It was fun that we returned to the Gray Island setting up Up For Air, and the brief information about the business situation involving The Creamery was oddly compelling. The softball summer camp was a lot of fun, and there were even some tips for players. Aunt Mary was a supportive character who is a teacher in the local high school, so she was well versed on all the current ways of talking to young people when they have problems, so she helped Bea more than her parents were able to. The father's business downfall was realistically portrayed; when I was in middle school, one of my friend's fathers actually spent time in jail for business fraud, so white collar crime does happen, and does have effects on families. Bea's desire to help her parents cope, and to make them proud, is not unusual. The friend drama with Hannah will make this appealing to readers, and Morrison does a top rate middle school romance, although we don't see nearly enough of Xander!
**Stop reading if you don't want the spoiler.** Weaknesses: I am diametrically opposed to the way that Bea treated her mother, so I will try to be measured in this opposition. Her mother's past life is none of Bea's business. If the only way her mother can cope with the suicide of her first husband is to tell Bea he died of cancer and to never return to Gray Island, everyone should let her do it. I don't understand the current trend to further traumatize people who have lost a loved one to suicide by making them talk about it, or, better yet, making them listen to ways one can "prevent suicide". Should Bea get counseling to deal with her parents' reversal of fortune? Of course. That's what good parents do. Does Bea's mother need counseling? No. She sounds like she is doing fairly well, and people should just leave her alone. What I really think: While I would like to see more softball books that have characters who are having a little more fun, this had enough softball to make it worth purchasing. Morrison has a style similar to Jenn Bishop's (Things You Can't Say, The Distance to Home), and is a great choice for upper middle grade readers. I can appreciate that the Gen Z and Millenials have a different approach to mental health than my Gen X view of "suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can" (John Mellencamp, Minutes to Memories) one, but I'm not sure that they are any happier or able to cope than my generation.
Competitive softball player Bea, a seventh grader, loses her confidence in her ability to catch and throw balls and even hit after her father is suspended from his law practice for some unethical financial maneuvers. Bea loves her father but can't reconcile what he did with the person she thinks is; nor can she bear all the negative attention the scandal causes. She begs her parents to let her stay with Aunt Mary, her mother's sister, to attend a softball camp. She is supposed to attend a sleepaway camp with her best friend Jessi, but she feels too uncomfortable and embarrassed to do so, and she finds it impossible to talk with Jessi about the mess her life has become. But Gray Island, Maine, presents its own challenges as Bea still can't conquer the fears that make softball no longer a refuge for her, and she learns some interesting facts about her mother's formative years there that seem contrary to what she has always been told. As Bea begins to trust herself and gets involved in a community service project with the help of Hannah, the daughter of one of her mother's childhood friends, she takes steps forward but also some backward as she avoids contact with Jessi and hurts Hannah with her carelessness. Eventually, Bea realizes that she needs to take care of herself and not always hide her true emotions from her parents, especially her father. Growing up means facing hard truths about oneself and others and realizing that life is complicated and not everything about it is easy. The book's title fits its contents perfectly, and the story is one with which many middle-grade readers will be able to relate. Bea herself isn't perfect, and she makes many mistakes, but she also is willing to try to atone for them.
My book is called “Coming up Short” by Laurie Morrison. It is about a young girl Beatrice (Bea) about 13-14 years old and she loves softball. This year her team is going to championships. At the championship game she froze and she could not throw the ball because her dad was not there. He was gone because he made a big mistake by misusing a client's funds, which caused his license to practice law to be suspended for a year. Kids at school knew about her dad and they started looking at her and talking about Bea behind her back. It has gotten in her head and she is taking it personally and not well.
Bea thinks that her parents' happiness depends on her because she is an only child. In the end of the book she finds out that it is okay to make mistakes in sports and be sad and talk about your feelings. Like when Bea tells her parents that she is not okay “ I take an enormous psych-up breath, and then tell him, ‘no. I'm not okay’.” and it took courage to tell her parents that.. When she said that it made her think about all of the stress and anxiety she has about sports, her parents, and what people think about her so she needed to tell someone and let it all out.
I really liked this book. I felt like I had a connection with Bea and I understood her and it felt good to have a main character that was the same age as me. I could relate to a lot of what happened in this book. I think that anywhere from 12 - 15 year olds could read this book and enjoy it as much as I did. My favorite part was when Xander talked to her in front of the ice cream shop. I really liked the ending because it felt good to see that she feels good about herself.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Laurie Morrison has done it again with COMING UP SHORT—engaging and emotionally layered, I loved this exploration of family, friendship, and the yips!
Bea is a superstar shortstop but everything changes when her dad is implicated in a legal scandal. As her family grapples with their current circumstances, Bea loses confidence in her game play and feels the change in relationships with friends and their standing in the community.
There are so many things I loved about this book. Laurie Morrison writes fantastic characters and dimensional relationships. No one is a “perfect” individual. Everyone (even the adults) has a way in which they can grow. I really appreciate her depiction of families … I love how she shows that a family can love each other AND still have room to learn and change. I loved watching Bea appreciate the strengths and shortcomings of both of her parents.
I also loved Bea’s friendships and teammate relationships, which felt very realistic to me. I especially liked the interactions with Hannah—there was a lot of depth there and I loved how Morrison didn’t wrap it up all neatly with a bow. I also really liked Bea’s relationships with Jessi and Xander, who were really interesting and well developed characters. I also adored Aunt Mary. Everyone should have an aunt like her! Oh and there’s a fun Easter egg with Annabelle (UP FOR AIR) that made me smile.
Finally, as the mom of two softball players, I absolutely LOVED the softball scenes. They were written in a very engaging way with lots of excitement and tension.
Thank you to #NetGalley and the author for sending me an eARC of COMING UP SHORT by Laurie Morrison (Release Date: June 21/22)
One of the things I love about this author is how authentic her writing voice is for upper middle-grade readers. In this story, Bea’s confidence in softball shatters when a scandal involving her dad causes her to lose focus during the championship game. In an effort to get away from the stress and regain her fearlessness on the field, she goes to stay with her aunt and take an intensive softball summer camp. But Bea learns that problems often follow you, and overcoming her mental block requires bravery, tough choices, and facing issues head-on. Important and relatable themes such as family, friendship, and self-esteem, mixed with lots of softball and sports psychology to handle performance anxiety, make this story unique and an excellent addition to a summer-themed reading list. It would pair well with Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber, another upper middle-grade title that deals with the impact of self-talk on sports performance.
Family dynamics and sports team dynamics can certainly be complicated. The needs & decisions of the individual can affect the group in negative and positive ways, and vice versa. Bea knows that better than anybody in this particular season of her life, as she struggles with the dynamics of her own family as well as her softball teams. Coming Up Short has a lot to say about this topic, and it says it in a way that elicits accurate and relatable feelings, along with a sentiment of hope amongst the challenges. The story not only emcompasses the dynamics of family, teams and friendship, but it also covers a love of softball, what it feels like to doubt your skills and “get in your head”, the desire to run off to an island where no one knows what happened before and the fact that we don’t always know all the details of someone’s story. This was a truly engaging read with so much to love. I’m grateful to have read it right at a time when it could speak directly to my soul, and I can’t wait for its late June release date so that others can explore this story.
I appreciated the nature scenes as well as the positive aspects of team camaraderie depicted in this middle grade book. I thought the discussion of suicide was fairly well done, but I believe the book could be improved by including mental health resources for youth. I would encourage any one working with youth to take a Youth Mental Health First Aid class. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/ I applaud Laurie Morrison by bring up suicide in a middle grade book, as young people need more opportunities to discuss this painful but important issue. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Suicide Prevention Hotline https://988lifeline.org/ also provides resources. NAMI offers free classes and support groups for those with mental illness and family members of those with mental health challenges. I am an adult woman who has listened to more than 400 middle grade and young adult audio books in the last two years who also volunteers with NAMI and is a suicide prevention advocate.
Coming Up Short is an absolutely fabulous read. I love its positivity and its themes of family, friendship, honesty, and teamwork.
Bea is having a superstar year in life and softball. But that all changes when a social media post reveals that her dad, her biggest fan, made a mistake at work that brought about legal action and scandal in town. Suddenly, Bea no longer has her magic touch in softball and starts doubting her dad, her friendships, and herself. Over the summer, Bea tries to run away from her problems and herself, but in the end, she learns that the most important thing is being honest with others and yourself, even if it means admitting that you were wrong. Coming Up Short would be a fantastic addition to every middle school library!
I was lucky to read an early copy of Coming Up Short. As always, Laurie Morrison delivers an engaging, emotional story about the lives of middle-schoolers. I am always impressed with and learn from her ability to create complex, flawed, characters who you ache and root for, along with a plot that sings and keeps you turning the pages. It's a perfect read for middle schoolers and young readers at heart, especially those that love the highs and lows of school sports and the personal growth that comes with it.
Another home run from Laurie Morrison! I loved the e-ARC of COMING UP SHORT, and marveled at Morrison's mastery over plot and middle-grade emotions. Bea is such a deep character, and her relationship with her parents--her need to please them--is fresh and complex. The plot is perfectly paced to keep the reader turning the pages. Love the positive representation of girls in sports, and the descriptions of Bea's passion for softball. We even get a return to Gray Island and a cameo by Annabelle from UP FOR AIR! I wholeheartedly recommend COMING UP SHORT.
Laurie Morrison has written another book that feels real and rich. Coming Up Short explores the insecurities that are often felt by girls in sports, as well as the idea of perfectionism. The main character Bea struggles with being perfect on the softball field, living in a town where her family are legends, and dealing with the aftermath of a scandal that shows her that mistakes can bring down even the most respected people. Coming Up Short deftly blends struggles within Bea's own family and her sports family to show that striving for best is far more attainable than perfect.
Laurie Morrison is an expert at writing about everyday life in a compelling, page-turning way. Her characters are always deeply relatable, loveable, and flawed. Though all of us come up short at times, this book does not. It is excellent and meaningful, and will especially appeal to softball fans and kids who are exhausted from the pressure to be a hero (which literature unfortunately has contributed to).
Coming up Short is such a great story of facing problems, talking things through, honesty with each other, friendship, forgiveness and staying powerful by only apologizing when you truly have regrets. Bea's family faces controversy but through it all so many important lessons are learned! A must read! #literaturecircle #greatdiscussions
This book is a home run in so many ways! As a teacher, I see so many Beas who feel responsible for their parents’ happiness. Coming Up Short tackles so many issues, which sounds so much like kids’ lives today. I can’t wait to share this one with students!
I think everyone can relate to having trauma that shakes up your play or whatever you excell at. Good book, I was worried it would be about softball too much, but there was a good balance. Set my goal for the year to 150! Don't want too crazy number with having less free time this spring